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    Question 85: I have a nephew in Wisconsin, who happens to be godfather to our daughter.  He's marrying a Protestant girl in July, and I'm afraid it won't be in the local Catholic Church.  It's killing me that he probably didn't get enough training on the "true" faith as a boy, and he thinks it's just so great that his girl is so spiritual and good (Bible Christian).  What would common wisdom dictate about whether or not we should go to the wedding?  P. H. Ontario, CA

 

    Answer: Jesus, who is God, elevated marriage to the level of a sacrament so that God’s grace would be available to help married couples be faithful to each other always. He also established a Church with the authority to set the rules and regulations for marriage. (Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven”). Thus the Catholic Church has the authority from God Himself to require her members to be married before a priest and two witnesses, or to obtain a dispensation from this form.

    You firmly believe in what the Church teaches about marriage because you know those teachings come directly from God the Father and His Son Jesus. For you to approve of your nephew’s plans to marry outside the Church or to attend the wedding would be to disregard these teachings and would be for you to turn your back on God. It would be a violation of the First Commandment, which says that God must come first in everything-ahead of family members and friends who might say that they believe in God, but live and act as if God did not exist.

    The Church’s teaching, as expressed in canon 1108 of the Code of Canon Law, is that a Catholic party can contract a valid marriage only in the presence of a Catholic bishop, priest, or deacon, who as the official witness of the Church must ask for and receive the consent of the parties in the name of the Church, and two witnesses, whose function is to attest that the marriage actually took place.

    In the case of a marriage between a Catholic and a Protestant, the local bishop of the Catholic party can dispense from these requirements “if serious difficulties pose an obstacle to the observance of the canonical form” (canon 1127.2), and he can permit the marriage to be celebrated in a Protestant church (canon 1118.2).

 

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